Researchers a step closer in quest for universal memory

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Researchers a step closer in quest for universal memory
Flash memory could one day be superseded.

Light delivers faster RAM.

Researchers from Singapore and the US have developed a new prototype random-access memory, which paves the way for faster and more energy efficient memory in smartphones and tablet devices.

In a paper published in Nature Communications today, the researchers, including lead author Junling Wang from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said the 16-cell prototype memory had the potential to deliver universal memory, improving on current flash memory.

Universal memory combines the speed of dynamic RAM, which is only in use when the computer is switched on, with the persistent capability of flash memory.

Flash memory storage capability degrades over time, so the researchers have found a way to use light to allow a computer chip to read data without having to destroy it and then rewrite it, as is currently the case with flash memory.

The prototype, which is based on ferroelectrics, is a significant step forward in the development of electronic device memory said Mark Gregory, senior lecturer in electrical and computer engineering at RMIT.

“The quest for solid state universal memory is vital for the consumer electronics industry,” he said.

“What this means is the we're one step closer to low cost, low energy universal memory designed to last longer and operate faster than existing consumer device memory.”

The researchers wrote that while there were several contenders being explored for universal memory, including filamentary conduction and magnetic RAM, both had high-energy consumption.

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